To quote Billy Joel:
Every child has a pretty good shot/To get at least as far as his old man got.
But something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our face.
Briefly, we have two new studies confirming that economic mobility has declined and that income distribution inequality is a major driver. For each decade since 1940, the number of children earning more than their parents (adjusting for everything) has steadily declined. 70% of those born in 1940 earned as much or more than their parents did over their working lives. From there, the numbers decline steadily -- with the exception of a brief bump up for children born between 1965 and 1975 (Gen X).
Why? Gen Xers entered the work force when the economy was booming in the 1990s. The 1990s was unusual in that we created an entire new sector of the economy, resulting in a significant expansion. It helps that middle age Boomers were also huge consumers and willing to take on ridiculous levels of credit card debt and housing debt, further expanding the economy. Also, while the industrial base in the Rust Belt was eroding, much of it was moving into southern states with no unions in the 1980s. It wasn't until about the mid-1990s that offshoring got serious.
The research tracks with wealth inequality, which means both that the economy overall shrinks and that fewer people capture more of the wealth. These are related phenomena.
For me, it means recalibrating some of the factors that go into my theory of the demographic snake. The bump up in Gen X income may explain the distribution of political and social trends among Gen Xers as a transition generation to Millenials. It may scew some of the trend lines that I expect to manifest in 10 years to a 15-20 year timeline. The problem is I need much better stats and much better analysis than I have. I simply don't know enough advanced statistics and demographics. I have reached a limit on my amature poking around.